Foster parents share the secrets of helping children in need

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Two foster parents from Forest Lake share their insights on fostering children after 25 years of caring for more than 100 kids

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Sometimes there are individuals in society that go above and beyond the call of duty.

Ruth and Peter Hall of Forest Lake have been doing exactly that for more than two decades.

Twenty-five years ago the Halls decided they would open their hearts and their home to foster children in Rockhampton.

They were in their late twenties at the time and hadn’t yet considered having children of their own.

Since then they’ve cared for over a hundred children and raised their own kids in places like Melbourne, China and Brisbane.

Now into their late fifties, they continue to provide foster care at their Forest Lake home.

“It brings us a lot of joy being able to feel the love in our home,” Peter said.

“We’ve always loved children.”

Ruth said it was the compassion she witnessed from foster carers as a child that convinced her follow the same path.

“I saw people who were foster carers when I was growing up and it had a big impact on me,” she said.

They felt their home was the ideal place to provide a better upbringing for children in need and didn’t think twice about starting the training process while in their late twenties.

“Ruth and I had a home and thought we could make a difference,” Peter said.

“We went through and did the training and next thing we knew we were foster parents.

“We started in Rockhampton and then moved to Melbourne.

“Since then we’ve been fostering for eleven years in Brisbane.”

According to Anglicare, carers like Ruth and Peter are a rare breed.

In regions across Brisbane’s southside and into Logan there is a severe shortage of foster parents.

Peter said carers were dropping in numbers due to the stigma attached to foster children and their parents.

“These days you hear so much about the negative aspects of foster care,” he said.

“But we’ve had a very positive experience fostering children.”

While Ruth and Peter concede it’s not all smooth sailing, they believe caring for a foster child is a fulfilling experience.

“I think it’s about seeing the difference you can make in a kids’ life,” Peter said.

“If people have a nurturing environment in their home it brings so many benefits to the child.

“Some kids bring a lot of baggage with them and you have to work through that.

“You’re trying to get the child back with its biological parents.

“In the end there’s good and bad to it, but we definitely see the good in it.”

The Halls are currently caring for a nine-month-old baby.

Twenty-five years on from when they first opened their home to a foster child, they haven’t lost sight of what it’s all about and are now urging others to get involved.

Their only piece of advice to prospective carers is that they remain tolerant at all times.

“You need to have a compassionate heart and the preparedness to have a go,” Ruth said.

“Be prepared that these children are coming to you with issues, so you’re not going to be able to change them overnight.”

An Anglicare spokeswoman said acquiring more carers like Ruth and Peter was a high priority.

She said a reduction in stay at home parents, smaller houses and other lifestyle factors were to blame for falling carer numbers.

The screening procedures, which can take up to three months, are also said to deter potential carers.

“There is a process, but we go through that process as quick as we can,” an Anglicare spokeswoman said.

“Anyone can be considered to be a foster parent.”

Anglicare is now looking to further engage Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander communities, and members of other diverse ethnic groups within the wider Brisbane area to find suitable carers.

Potential foster carers can contact Anglicare on 1300 610 610 or online at anglicaresq.org.au

This story was originally published in Quest News.

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